GCC, Endicott College partner for nursing
GREENFIELD — Nurses with an associate’s degree who want to or are being asked to advance to the next academic level will now be able to earn their bachelor’s degree without leaving Greenfield.
Greenfield Community College signed an agreement Thursday with Endicott College, a four-year private school based in Beverly, that will allow students to work toward the degree through on-campus and online courses.
“This partnership is not just renting space. It’s not just about opening a door,” said GCC President Robert Pura, at a signing event at the college. “It’s about an opportunity to provide access for students and to increase the quality of health care of our community.”
GCC officials said the bachelor’s degree is more and more considered as an entry-level requirement for health care jobs. About half of Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s nurses currently have a bachelor’s degree, said hospital officials.
Pura, who serves on Baystate Health’s board of trustees, believes the program will strengthen the relationship between the college and the Greenfield hospital. Baystate Franklin President Chuck Gijanto and Chief Nursing Officer Deborah Palmeri attended the event.
“People understand that the bachelor’s (degree) is what’s going to get them to move along on their career trajectory,” said Palmeri, who told attendees that she had to travel to earn her degree.
“It will be so easy for students here at the college and people from Franklin County to be able to achieve that. It’s an access issue,” she said.
The program, which will begin in January, can be completed in 18 months to two years, according to Mary Huegel, dean of graduate and professional studies for Endicott.
Though classes will be available on the GCC campus, the students will technically be enrolled at Endicott and taught by that college’s faculty.
A student who takes the full course load will have to pay just under $19,000 in total. But the cost may end up being much lower, said Huegel, because each student is individually evaluated and may receive credit for “life experience” they gained in the field.
“Whatever you’ve done, we’re going to give you credit for it if it’s valid,” she said.
Endicott College will likely cap each nursing group at about 20 students, but could run multiple groups at a time, said Huegel.
The private college has run similar partnerships with schools in the past, but this is its first time working with a public community college, said Huegel. The college will send a full-time faculty adviser to the GCC campus and may look to employ GCC faculty to teach some of the program’s courses in years to come, she said.
This collaboration comes two months after an announcement of a $1 million gift to GCC’s nursing program. The fund will permanently pay for a faculty leadership position, which will allow the school to hire a nursing career adviser and provide 23 annual scholarships.
Endicott President Richard Wylie, who attended the signing event, said that his college is also pursuing other medical programs for physician assistants and physical therapists. Gijanto commented that providing a local program to train these positions would be a major help to health organizations.
This is the second time in as many months that GCC has announced a partnership with a four-year college.
Students with an associate degree and interest in social work can now earn a bachelor’s degree on campus through the Chicopee-based College of Our Lady of the Elms, often called Elms College.
Pura said there will likely be even more partnerships forming soon, including ones with other public universities like Salem State University and the University of Massachusetts.
“Forty-five years ago, I said if Greenfield Community College was a four-year college, I never would have left,” said GCC Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Cohn. “Now that’s becoming part of the reality.”
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